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Lucy Thornton: The Shape of Water

7x British National Medallist in the 100 and 200m Butterfly, shares her journey as an elite swimmer and King's student.

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I’m Lucy Thornton, I’m in my second year studying Geography and balance my studies with training to compete as an international swimmer. In this article I’ll share a little bit about my life as a student-athlete!

My swimming journey started thanks to my parents regularly taking me to the local leisure centre to play and learn to swim as a toddler. I remember being fascinated by blowing bubbles and just generally enjoying immersing myself underwater. As my parents were involved in coaching swimming it was no surprise that I became confident in the pool very quickly and thus joined Ealing Swimming Club where I started to swim competitively at the age of 8. Eleven years later I am still swimming and more motivated than ever to excel as an international swimmer. My competitive nature has always played a huge part in ensuring I have stayed determined to commit myself to my sport and aspire to always be the best I can be. However, like anything worthwhile doing, it is not easy and certainly isn’t possible to do alone. If it wasn’t for my coach Dave Heathcock, my family and the the exceptional support network I have always had, managing to balance life as a successful student athlete would be a lot harder than it currently is!

Swimming has help equip me with essential life skills such as; the importance of commitment, time-management and how to overcome both mental and physical challenges. It has given me so many opportunities to travel and meet life-long friends. I guess, besides the competitive aspect and my desire to compete at the Olympic Games, these are the things that still make me excited about what is yet to come.

I know the extra-curricular things I do will be the things I remember.– Lucy Thornton, King's Sport Performance Athlete

My greatest achievements so far are probably being double British National champion in the 100 metres Butterfly and a 7x British National medallist in the 100 and 200 metres Butterfly. I guess making every national final in my main events for 9 consecutive years is also something to be proud of (its crazy how quickly time flies!). However, I have also competed at the London 2012 Olympic Trials, Commonwealth, European and World Trials as well as the British Championships for many years in a row. I have additionally been very fortunate to have been selected for a myriad of teams where I have competed in; Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Germany and Ireland over the years and most recently became an Irish national medallist in the 200m Butterfly.

My experience as an athlete at King’s so far has been amazing. It has not only made me realise that completing a degree and balancing my 20 hour a week training schedule is possible but also brought a different dynamic to my routine.

I am very proud to represent King’s as a student athlete and hope I can get a spot on the podium at the upcoming British University Championships.– Lucy Thornton, King's Sport Performance Athlete

As a King’s Performance Athlete, I have been fortunate enough to receive the great support from the university and this has enabled me to drop in and complete some of my land-based training in the King’s gym with Chris, the Strength and Conditioning coach. This has helped massively in relieving some of the pressure to balance training hours with studying and in many ways has enhanced my training by encouraging me to become more mature and open-minded in my approach. I am very proud to represent King’s as a student athlete and hope I can get a spot on the podium at the upcoming British University Championships.

Lastly, I would like to encourage you all to try and get involved in some form of sport at university! I know my chaotic swimming life may sound a little off putting to some but there really are such a wide spectrum of sports societies and levels on offer. For me, I know the extra-curricular things I do will be the things I remember as they really can be heaps of fun. Don’t feel bogged down by not having enough time as it is possible to balance sport with university if you master your time management - and doing so has such an array of physical and mental health benefits it really is worth giving it a try!